So, in case you missed it, a few weeks ago the band Whirr said some pretty hateful things on Twitter about trans* people and about the band G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) in particular. Things like “misogyny is hating women. g.l.o.s.s. Is just a bunch of boys running around in panties making shitty music.” In response, their record label dropped them quicker than you can say “transphobia is misogyny, you jerks.” It was one of those rare and gratifying moments of immediate justice being delivered on the internet.
You can listen to G.L.O.S.S.’s EP Demo on their bandcamp. Their queer brand of hardcore is filled with stellar lines like “with lined lips and spiked bats, gonna take femininity back” and “straight America, you will ruin me,” radiating a truly punk ethic of not giving a shit what people think about them.
In the spirit of throwing more light on trans* people in music, here’s a list of five other awesome openly trans* musicians who you should be listening to now. They deserve as much support as they can get—not just because they make good music, but because if we as a society can start not only tolerating but highlighting trans* people in music, then maybe there is hope for us yet.
(Note: below I’ve used the gender pronouns most recently cited as preferred by each artist. If you know better, though, please drop me a line.)
1. Mykki Blanco
Ok, hopefully you already know about Mykki Blanco—if from nothing else, from her 2012 single “Wavvy” that was playing everywhere for a minute. In addition to her short but prolific music career, Blanco has also made a name for herself as an LGBT activist, performance artist and poet, with the release of her 2011 book From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys. Go watch all of her music videos, and then listen to Betty Rubble: The Initiation, her album from earlier this year.
2. Antony and the Johnsons
Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons has also had a prolific and varied artistic career. A director and artist, Antony also has one of the most haunting voices in contemporary music. The band is known for tear-jerking baroque-pop ballads like “Hope There’s Someone.” Listen to their self-titled debut album of 2000, then check out some of Antony’s art projects, two of which were listed in SFAQ’s list of “The Top 5 Art Shows in New York City Last Year.”
3. Aye Nako
This punk queercore band from Brooklyn just won Village Voice’s “Best Garage Band of 2015” and it’s well deserved—their music is raw and emotional while still melodic and catchy. In their own words, the quartet plays “sad punk songs about being queer, trans, and black.” You can get their latest EP The Blackest Eye here.
4. Mya Byrne
Mya Byrne is a folk musician and songwriter from Boston. She released her first solo EP in 2004, and has been a staple in the New York folk scene since. She played for the band The Ramblers from 2008 to 2014. You can listen to her first solo LP since her transition in 2014, As I Am, on her website.
5. Rae Spoon
Rae Spoon started songwriting and performing in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta, when they were a teenager. Their early music is decidedly down-home folksy, with Spoon playing guitar, banjo and mandolin on albums Throw Some Dirt on Me and Your Trailer Door, but their most recent album My Prairie Home displays some much more slowed-down, orchestral elements. Besides their musical career, Spoon has authored a book of short stories called First Spring Grass Fire, and has collaborated on the book Gender Failure with Ivan E. Coyote.